Stakeholder-Driven Innovation for Resilient Cities

Over half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a number predicted to grow to 60 percent by 2030. Urban areas face unprecedented and growing challenges that threaten society’s long-term wellbeing, including poverty, chronic health problems, widespread pollution and resource degradation, and increased natural disasters. These are ‘wicked’ problems involving ‘systems of systems’ that require unprecedented information sharing and collaboration across disciplines and organizational boundaries. Cities are recognizing that the increasing stream of data and information (’big data’), informatics, and modeling can support rapid advances on these challenges.

Nonetheless, information technology solutions can only be effective in addressing these challenges through deeply human and systems perspectives. A stakeholder-driven approach is needed to develop urban systems that address multiple needs, such as parks that capture and treat stormwater while improving human and ecosystem health and wellbeing. We are developing informatics and web-based collaborative design tools, enabling engineers and designers to: (1) identify the most promising areas for placing new infrastructure to increase resilience; (2) holistically assess its impacts on human and ecosystem wellbeing; and (3) use social media to facilitate meaningful stakeholder engagement in a human-centered, collaborative design process.

To build on this work, we are developing a multidisciplinary City Innovation Hub (CitIHub), bridging the gap between technology and human needs by combining novel informatics with team building and collaborative programs. Providing shared infrastructure and connecting research and class project teams with Dallas and other cities, CitIHub will develop user- and stakeholder-driven designs to improve urban resilience in a rapidly changing world.

Barbara Minsker is the Lyle Professor of Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Senior Fellow in the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity at SMU. She has received numerous awards for her research and leadership, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Army Young Investigator Award, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize.

Dr. Minsker earned a B.S. in operations research and industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University.

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